Before I begin, I have a confession to make. People think I’m a pessimist, I’m always talking about the darker side of the coin, when you don’t see when it slipped over. But here’s a confession: secretly, I am an optimist. 90% of the things I say are things I hope I’m wrong about. Now that we have that out of the way, it’s get down to business. As my readers know, I’m currently working on developing a project called the gimpy monologues. Along with that, comes a series of thoughts consumed by issues surrounding disability, surprise, surprise. I’ve been preparing to talk about a certain issue in a monologue for a little while now. And today I ran across a couple of things that easily relate to that issue. So, if you’ll bear with me I’d like to rant a little bit, and hopefully that will make the monologue that results even better.
I ran across the YouTube video here that is part of the PSA campaign relating to the employment of disabled persons. Achieving the dream is the angle it takes. I think this is a very positive message first and foremost, but I have to say, where was this mentality when I was growing up? Most of the time, schools for disabled people were little more than daycare centers to give parents the opportunity to go to work and earn a living, and all that sort of thing which is great. Meanwhile the state of special education remained wholly subpar when compared to the education that non-special-education students received on a daily basis, which as you all know, I don’t think is that great either. When I say this, I’m not talking about severely cognitively impaired children who are unable to complete the standard high school curriculum, let’s say. I’m talking about those were mentally capable of completing any number of task set before them without any great deal of mental difficulty other than that which is to be expected from a student their age. If you had any sort of disability when I was growing up, you were sent to one of two specific schools in your area that were “equipped to handle people with your needs.” Which usually meant they had a handful of condescending classroom aides, and restrooms that were designed for people who weren’t superthin, and had bars in the stalls for their handicapped students.
For most of the students that were in special ed during my time, little thought was given to them ever going to college even if they were capable, and “mainstreamed.” This finally leads me to my point, I’m sorry it took so long. I tend to be a little bit long-winded. The ad campaign is what I wish the world were, which is a stark contrast to what it actually is for disabled person seeking employment. According to the US Department of Labor, roughly 68% of persons with no disability are currently participating in the workforce, with just under 20% participation for persons with disabilities. One fifth of the disabled population is participating in the workforce in a productive way. The average unemployment rate according to the US Department of Labor as of February 2014 is roughly 6.8%, while the unemployment rate for persons with disabilities is more than double that of 14.3%. I have some thoughts on the statistics, but I’ll probably save them for the blog on Friday. Okay well they’re not so much complete thoughts, as they are questions we need to be asking ourselves. I’ll start with the first one is a little teaser, I know how you guys like to be to use a little… Everyone does. If that large of a percentage is left unemployed, isn’t that just an untapped resource? So I’ll ask you the same thing the ad campaign asks, what can you do? See you on Friday!